Two major unions representing workers at Société Radio-Canada have called on the CRTC to send a clear message to the Harper government: Radio-Canada is essential for implementation of the Canadian Broadcasting Policy and requires access to stable, adequate and regular public funding in order to fulfil its intended role.
The Provincial Council for the Communications Sector (CPSC) of CUPE-Quebec joined forces with the Radio-Canada technicians’ union (STARF) to take the joint action before the CRTC.
“It’s simple,” stated CPSC President Richard Labelle. “Without stable year-over-year funding, public broadcasters cannot present original, diversified programming designed for the public, not for advertisers.”
“Canadians want a strong public broadcaster that offers high-quality, independent information,” explained Benoît Celestino, STARF national president.
Facing a decrease in government funding, Radio-Canada television has been forced to make more commercial programming choices to keep advertisers happy. “With the cuts this past spring and the phasing out of the Local Programming Improvement Fund, this trend is likely to accelerate,” complained Isabelle Doyon, president of the union representing Radio-Canada office workers and professionals (CUPE 675).
In light of this budget uncertainty, the CPSC proposed that the CRTC would be justified in adopting a customized regulatory approach for Radio-Canada. Radio-Canada’s specialty channels contribute to meeting the objectives of the broadcaster’s mandate along with its mainstream networks. The CPSC finds it entirely appropriate as a result to uphold the mandatory distribution of RDI and the CBC News Network or to even extend it to all of Radio-Canada’s specialty channels.